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Nearly Two Thirds Of People Back The £20-A-Week Increase In Universal Credit

3 min read

Exclusive polling for PoliticsHome has revealed 62 percent of people polled are in favour of the government keeping the £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit welfare payments beyond March 2021.

After Boris Johnson endured criticism from within this own party this week for not giving a clear position on whether the government will keep the payment when it expires at the end of March, the majority of people, including Tory voters, want it to stay.

The prime minister has said all measures are under constant review.

Polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies carried out two days after a non-binding Labour motion on the issue passed in the Commons, found that when people were given context about how Universal Credit works, and asked if the £20 weekly increase given by the government should be increased beyond April, 62 percent said yes, 20 percent said no.

Of those polled who voted Tory at the last election 51 percent want the benefit increase to be extended for a year compared to 29 percent who did not, and 21 percent who did not know. Of the Brexit Party voters polled 59 percent want it to stay. 

All regions of the UK want to keep the uplift, but in London polling showed 69 percent were in favour, as were almost three quarters of all of those polled in Scotland.

Those aged 55 to 64 were least in favour of keeping it, while the younger age groups were between 10 and 15 percent points more likely to want it to stay in place.

A significant number of Tories in the Northern Research Group of 65 backbench MPs delivered a stark message to the PM that the enhanced benefit payments had been a "lifeline" for their constituents.

Though only six Tories rebelled and voted with Labour, including the chair of the education select committee Robert Halfon, and former Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb. Crabb said even with the uplift, no-one can pretend there is a generous benefits system in the UK.

When asked if, as far as they know, Universal Credit has been generous enough throughout the pandemic, 40 percent of those polled said yes, 30 percent said no and 30 percent said they did not know.

A strong majority of 63 percent think it would be better to provide an additional £86.67 per month to those on Universal Credit – the £20-a-week sum – rather than to provide them with an additional one-time payment of £1,040. 15% would support the one-time payment instead.

It had been rumoured that the Treasury could scrap the benefit increase for six million people and instead replace it with a £500 one off payment. 

Labour MP for Stalybridge & Hyde and shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Conservatives have the wrong priorities for Britain. Despite being warned by former advisors, their own MPs, charities, and the Labour Party, they’re still pushing ahead with plans to cut £1000 a year from millions of families’ incomes.

“Britain had the worst recession of any major economy because of the Government’s incompetence and indecision. 

“They must now see sense, give certainty to families and secure our economy by cancelling their disastrous cut to Universal Credit."

The polling of 2,000 people took place on January 20.

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